Most Valuable Player: Cat Barber

Gregory Shamus

NC State had 0 QBs last year. Brandon Mitchell and Pete Thomas split time during the season when both were healthy and our 2 QB system resulted in a 3-9 embarrassment of a season. Because, you see, there is no such thing as a successful 2-QB system. As the most important position in the sport, the old adage goes that if you have 2 QBs, you have no QB.

For Mark Gottfried and NC State Basketball's 2014-15 season...we have only 1 QB in Point Guard Cat Barber. Over the past 3 years of MGs tenure we've always had quality depth at the PG position. Lo Brown/Alex Johnson, Brown/Tyler Lewis, and last year, Lewis/Cat Barber. The comparison of QBs to PGs doesn't always fit, but that aforementioned adage was the case last year. Lewis and Barber never complimented each other well and it can be said that their growth as players was stunted by the need to give them both significant minutes. Yet with Lewis' departure and the failure to pick up Devonte Graham, the most important player on our team next year is Cat Barber, period. Apparently it seems that Dez Lee, a career SG, will be spotting Barber while Trevor Lacy, who has played some point, is committed to playing the 2 guard. That means Cat is THE man, THE QB and our success weighs on his performance.

So what is it that needs to be done with Cat in order to have this team, with all it's pieces, improve upon last years solid but unspectacular record? Here we go:

1) Strength

Richard Howell, TJ Warren, and now BeeJay Anya are great examples of guys under this staff who have transformed their bodies in the offseason in order to improve their performance. In the case of Howell and Warren,it made them All-ACC players who both are currently playing professionally. Cat must do the same. As a PG who attacks the rim, improving his strength will help him absorb the physicality and finish through contact. Defensively, he will face bigger, taller guards who he must stand toe to toe with and avoid getting pushed around like Lewis did. Every spill Barber took last year was met with a fear he'd get injured due to his body type. We cannot afford scares like that this year. The hope is added strength won't nullify his quickness which is similar to some sort of idk a squirrel maybe?

2) Consistent Jumper

TJW had the most miraculous mid-range game seen here in decades. His sweet spots were all in the middle area of the court where his floater and jumper were deadly. Overlooked through all that was another player who also didn't mind pulling up from mid-range and that was Cat Barber. We mostly recall Cat attacking the basket and getting to the line, but early in the season he also showed a penchant to pull up from mid-range with a decent jumper. Consistency in that will make him hard to guard as is but what will really make him deadly is a reliable outside shot. Cat will not be guarded tightly or he'll be performing ankle surgery on his defender. Therefore, Barber has to keep them honest as they sag off by knocking down uncontested and slightly contested jumpers. With that addition to his game, he'd be nearly unguardable.

3) Limited Minutes

Everyone, fans, players, coaches, announcers knew what was happening during the closing minutes of the St Louis game. You could see and feel the fatigue of TJW as he had spent all season and 35+ games with 37+ minutes carrying an offensive offense at State. Mental, physical and emotional fatigue caught up to our most important player and the game slipped away. This season MG must begin with the end in mind. It sounds counterintuitive for your most important player to come 3rd in minutes but that's what needs to happen. Our 4 bigs should rotate in and out to remain fresh, while our presumed starters/scorers in Lacy and Turner should play the heaviest minutes until the Martins are ready to contribute. MG has to limit Cat to 30-32 minutes a game and even find a routine to rest him throughout games. Granted, the problem stated earlier is that our backup PG situation is less than ideal but that's exactly why we need to keep Barber fresh through the long season and post-season play. Cat will often be working hard on both ends as the primary ball-handler and the best on-ball defender we have, so he'll need breaks to avoid fatigue, foul trouble, and prevent injury. If we want to make deep post-season runs we have to have the energy to start the race. No one more true than Cat

Last season our "QB Controversy" on the Basketball team caused fluctuating line-ups and some inconsistent play from the PG position. We had no QB, no true starting PG. This year there is no controversy so, just like Jacoby Brissett, Cat Barber has been handed the keys with less than stellar backup options riding shotgun. Improvement in his body, his shooting, and the handling of his minutes will go a long way to determine what kind of season Year 4 of the Gottfried era produces.

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